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Enes Kanter Forges Unlikely Friendship With Sen. Ron Wyden

The Oregon senator discusses his start in basketball before a surprise visit from the Blazers big man.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon sat down with KGW’s Orlando Sanchez to discuss Portland Trail Blazers basketball on the network’s “3-On-3 Blazers” Podcast. In the interview, Wyden reveals how he really wanted to play in the NBA growing up, and he kept up his basketball skills after taking office.

“With respect to the alleged shooting contest, it took place in the House,” Wyden recalled. “There were 50 shots in the contest. I missed the first one, ran the next 24, missed another one, ran like another 20-some. I made 47 out of 50 [free throws],” said Wyden. “I will tell you, I live in fear that there will be some charitable event and everybody says, ‘Shoot some free throws,’ and I’ll make like 26 out of 50 and everybody will call the big event a fraud.”

The senator is a avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, and he played a key role in trying to get Arvydas Sabonis to the United States.

“Larry Weinberg and Harry Glickman actually sent me to Moscow to talk to the Soviets about bringing Arvydas Sabonis to Portland,” Wyden explained. “I thought it was out of the ‘Rocky’ movie because I’m sitting there talking to all these political leaders in Moscow and I’m wondering, shoot am I going to get out of here safely or not?”

“Every time I’d say something, I offered this letter from Larry Weinberg and Harry, one of them would go, ‘nyet,’ and I said to myself I don’t think this is going too well,” Wyden said.

Wyden’s love of the Trail Blazers brought him into contact with Blazers’ big man Enes Kanter, and the two men have become friends. Apparently, Kanter dropped in during the recording of the podcast.

“He was in our community and he had a real problem. Turkey’s president Erdogan, a real authoritarian, stripped him of his passport, harassing his dad, his family and basically encouraging other countries to arrest him,” Wyden said of Kanter’s situation. “So, we just got together and it’s just been a wonderful friendship.”

Kanter surprised Wyden by dropping in during the Zoom interview.

“Oh my gosh my buddy is right there?,” said Wyden with excitement in his voice.

“How are you guys doing? We are actually practicing,” said Kanter ahead of the Trail Blazers game at Golden State. “This is our locker room right now I’ll show it to you, but I just wanted to say hi.”

Kanter recently revealed his own political ambitions, which he stated are inspired by Wyden.

“You are one of the biggest reasons I want to get into politics because I see leaders like you can make a big change, impact lives and touch hearts, so you inspire me,” Kanter responded.

You can read the entire piece here.